Well, not perzackly. If the NIF, which came in 12 years late and 300% over budget, magically gets itself on track, then, according to its manager, we might get “ignition” (engineering break-even: more energy out than in) in the next year or two, a demonstration project by 2020, and actual power plants sometime between 2030 and 2050.
When I was growing up, fusion energy was 30 years away. It’s comforting to find that some things don’t change. Fusion, it has been said, is the energy source of the future: and always will be.
Still, “eventually” sometimes arrives. And fusion, if it happens, would be a really big deal. Given the trillions of dollars potentially at stake, it would criminal not to “waste” a few billion trying to get there.
So the next time your wingnut friends tell you how much money we could save by abolishing the Department of Energy, think fusion, and think about how vastly implausible it is to imagine anyone but a government spending the money it takes to find out whether it can be made to work.